As a physician with conventional medical training, I often used to look at home remedies with skepticism. I have had several patients who have sworn that apple cider vinegar was good for whatever ailed them. Apple cider vinegar has been around for ages. Hippocrates used it to treat wounds; soldiers in the civil war used it for digestive problems and to prevent pneumonia and scurvy. Apparently Cleopatra used it to dissolve her pearls to make a love potion for Mark Antony.
Studies Showing Benefit
There have been recent studies done at the University of Arizona that have caused me to take a second look at apple cider vinegar. One study looked at 29 patients with either insulin resistance (prediabetes) or type 2 diabetes. They were given either a drink of vinegar, water and saccharine or placebo followed by a meal with 87 grams of carbohydrate. Compared to placebo, blood sugar decreased by 64% in the prediabetes group and 19% in the diabetes group.
Another study looked at weight loss in healthy women. The women were given a morning drink of vinegar or placebo followed by a bagel breakfast. Not only did the vinegar group have a 54% lower blood sugar one hour later, but they also consumed 11-16% fewer calories throughout the day.
Yet, another study found that taking a drink containing two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar along with eating one ounce of cheese before bedtime significantly lowered fasting blood sugars in the morning.
There are potential safety and side effect issues. Obviously those allergic to apples need to avoid apple cider vinegar. Raw apple cider vinegar can contain bacteria, so it would be better to use the pasteurized form. Apple cider vinegar capsules can cause burning in the esophagus if they get lodged there. Apple cider vinegar can also irritate the stomach. There are potential drug interactions if a patient is taking digoxin, insulin or diuretics. Vinegar can lower potassium levels.
Of course, as with everything, moderation is the key. Taking a mixture of apple cider vinegar in juice or water in the morning may help with both blood sugar and weight control. It is important to discuss this with your doctor before you do it.